Tough Mudder challenges Soldiers, encourages them to help wounded comrades
October 15, 2010
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. -- A group of eight Soldiers from Fort Huachuca participated in the Tough Mudder event held in Bear Valley Mountain Ski Resort, Calif. on Sunday. The group, along with other participants, had to climb the steep, rugged Black Diamond Mountains as part of the challenge.
Warning signs are posted for people not to run up or down these mountains. Tough Mudder prides itself on being one of the toughest one-day events anyone can participate in. These events are held all over the United States, and each event consists of a 7 - 12 mile run that combines mud with a physically demanding terrain.
During the course of the run, participants must go through 17 sets of military-style obstacles. The Tough Mudder obstacle courses were designed by British Special Forces and are meant to test all around strength, stamina, fitness, camaraderie, mental grit and, of course, toughness. Tough Mudder is also a sponsor of the Wounded Warrior Project.
The WWP is a non-profit organization that helps American servicemen and servicewomen who have been severely injured while in the military. The Tough Mudder first made its debut in May 2010 which sold out all 4,500 spaces in only 35 days.
The founder of Tough Mudder is Will Dean, an Englishman, whose background prior to the series lay in financial counter-terrorism for the British government, followed by a master\'s degree in business administration at Harvard. He was inspired to start the business after growing frustrated by the unimaginative and repetitive events that already existed, and a desire to create something that would occupy the space marathons, triathlons, mud runs, and other adventure runs weren't filling.
What makes the Tough Mudder different from similar events is the Tough Mudder is not a race and it is not timed; merely finishing the course is meant to be a reward. The event also allows people to experience camaraderie and teamwork with both teammates and strangers. Many of the obstacles require teamwork just to maneuver through them.
"I think the best part was interacting with the other competitors and helping each other complete the obstacles," said Sgt 1st Class Jason Ferrer, 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, 111th Military Intelligence Brigade, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence.
"Camaraderie was definitely the word of the day." For Spc Jorge Acosta, 11th Signal Brigade, and Ferrer's teammate, the feeling was mutual. "Team work, for some people is just doing what you have to do because you have to, not because you feel like you care or want to help someone out in the time of need," said Acosta.
"All Soldiers have been through some type of extended training exercise or school where there is always the 'weakest link,' and that person will stay like that for the remaining of the training without anyone really helping them out. However, for me, the way I experienced teamwork during Tough Mudder this past weekend, meant putting a fellow mudder's need before my own and helping them accomplish an obstacle before I do."
Although Ferrer, Acosta and the rest of their teammates helped many other participants along the trail, during the last two miles of the event Ferrer and Acosta came upon an injured participant they dubbed "13," the number given to her not only because of her bib number, but to make light of her misfortune.
"Thirteen" had severely injured her ankle during one of last obstacles and it was evident to both Ferrer and Acosta she would not finish the event without assistance.
Rather than leave a fellow Tough Mudder by the wayside, Ferrer and Acosta took turns carrying "13" the final two miles to the finish line. "It wouldn't have been right to just leave her there," Ferrer said.
"This event was held to support the Wounded Warrior Project. In the spirit of that fact, how could we not help her'"
"Even though she injured herself, she did not want to quit," said Acosta.
"Her main motivation was her brother serving in Afghanistan with the United States Marine Corps. That's what drew me to help her out, because I know that if I was ever to need help downrange, and her brother was there, he would do the same for me."